Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind


                “Hello, I’m Violet Wilson,” I said into my camcorder. “And this is my best friend, Sweet Pea.”

            “Call me Clementine,” she said defiantly, shielding herself from the lens.

            “Sorry.” I pressed the power button and put my camcorder into my book bag.

            “That name is only reserved for my mom,” she said, resting her hands upon her hips.

            “But not for best friends since third grade,” I said, with my best impression of a sad puppy dog.

            “Oh,” she groaned, lolling her head to the side. All her sandy brown corkscrew curls fell to the right side of her face.

            “How much Halloween candy did you eat?” I asked.

            “Not much. Just five snack-sized Butterfingers, a box of Nerds, a popcorn ball, two peanut butter pumpkins and a Tootsie Pop. Not much.” She shrugged her shoulders.

            This didn’t surprise me much; Sweet Pea had one serious sweet tooth.

            “Violet, I don’t think I’ll be at school tomorrow,” she said rubbing her tummy.

            I glared at her. “You have to be at school. Remember I’m captain in gym class tomorrow. Don’t you know what the means?”

            “I won’t be picked last,” she said, her eyes wide behind her pink framed glasses.

            “Not only that, we could be on our way to eating at the “in” table.”

            “You think all that will happen?”

            “Of course, we’ll be moving up the social ladder. We’ll be so cool.”

            “But isn’t Lindy Purtle already at the top of that ladder,” she innocently added.

            I sighed heavily and placed one of her Powerpuff Girls pillow over my face to catch my scream. “You really know how to break a girl’s dream.”

            “Besides, if being “cool” means I can’t like the Powerpuff Girls, I rather stay as I am,” she added, shaking her head along with her curls.

            I looked at her. It was clear she wasn’t being rational. “The Powerpuff Girls aren’t cool. They’re for five year olds. We’re in junior high now!” I threw my hands toward the ceiling. “How can we extend our social circle when we’re doing “uncool” things? You can’t make a circle with just two people,” I said.

            Clementine poked out her lower lip-glossed lip. “There are just some things I won’t do to be cool.”             She folded her arms.                                                                           At that moment, I wanted to pull out strands of my hair, and strangle her with them. Clementine’s mom poked her head in the room. “Violet, your mom is here,” she announced.

            I scrambled to my feet. “I better see you tomorrow,” I warned.


            Monday morning Clementine wasn’t at her bus stop. I stared out the window, hoping she would show up. I had no such luck. “I’m going to get her,” I mumbled. Just then, I got a whiff of moldy cheese. Oh no, Cheese Boy!

            He was about to park it next to me. I tried to place my book bag on the seat, but his behind was quicker than my hand.

            “Hello, Violet,” he said, sheepishly.

            I gave a weak smile and slumped low in my seat. I had to sit next to the malodorous Cheese Boy. I’m really going to get Clementine.

            I was at my desk almost through the section on the Reconstruction Era when Clementine finally planted herself next to me. I paid no attention to her.

            “Ms. Sweetney, it’s nice of you to join us. Isn’t it class?” Mrs. Sharp asked.                        Suddenly the classroom door opened and there stood a girl dressed in strange attire. Everyone’s eyes were drawn from their reading to the new girl that walked in.

            “Does she have on tin foil?” Lindy Purtle asked aloud.

            The class ruptured into giggles. The look Mrs. Sharp gave us, if it could kill, we would have all fell like autumn leaves. The laughter stopped. The new girl introduced herself as Kamaria Showers. Mrs. Sharp handed her a history book and she took the vacant seat behind me. I glanced back and noticed that her skirt did look like aluminum foil. I could actually see my reflection. Two cotton candy puffs were set atop her head. She flashed me a smile and said hi. I quickly went back to my reading.

            “She definitely makes us look normal,” I whispered to Clementine.

            “For homework, do the even questions at the end of the chapter,” Mrs. Sharp instructed as the bell rang.

            There were seven minutes to spare before math class. Clementine and I always went to our lockers (which were conveniently next to each other). She needed to refuel on sugar and I needed to exercise my brain. “That new girl is something peculiar,” I said, checking myself in the mirror. That pimple had finally evacuated the tip of my nose. My hair looked like a collection of dust bunnies upon my head. I wish I could get my hair relaxed. I sighed.

            “That new girl is coming this way,” Clementine, said interrupting my rambling thoughts.

            Sure enough, she was wearing a smile and sashaying toward us. Please don’t stop. I would definitely lose cool points associating with the new weird girl. But she did stop; she stood right next to me.

            “Hello, I didn’t catch your names. I’m Kamaria,” she said, with the widest smile.


            “Violet,” I said trying to avoid eye contact.

            “Well, isn’t that lovely. You’re a flower and a shade of purple,” Kamaria beamed.

            Then Lindy and company had to stop in front of our lockers.                                               “Girl! Where did you get that outfit?” Lindy Purtle asked.

            Kamaria blinked her thousand eyelashes. “My mom made it, she makes all my clothes.” She gave a clumsy curtsey.

            “That is so cool. So Judy Jetson,” she said, sardonically.

            “So Judy Jetson,” Lindy’s friends echoed.

            “Thank you.” Kamaria smiled brightly.

            Lindy Purtle rolled her eyes. “Come on girls,” she commanded. “I’ve spent enough time chatting with these losers.” She sauntered off, but not before bumping me into my locker.

            “If I used profane language I know exactly what I would call her,” Clementine said once Lindy Purtle was out of earshot.

            The bell rang. We were late.

            “Ms. Sweetney and Ms. Wilson, class starts at 9:00 sharp not 9:06.” Mr. Tieman said, his brow forming one big hairy V.

            “We had to help the new girl,” I explained.

            Kamaria smiled shyly. Mr. Tieman’s features softened. Kamaria introduced herself to the class for a second time. Since all the seats were filled, she took the empty seat next to me. (The fates were against me). Mr. Tieman wrote a geometry problem on the board. ‘Find the area of a circle whose radius is 14cm.’ “Please don’t pick me,” I mumbled. But he did.

            I reluctantly got up. I just didn’t like doing problems on the board. I always made some kind of mistake. I thought for a moment. I would have to find the diameter before I I could figure out the area. I picked up the chalk, exhaled, and wrote 87.92. I turned toward the class. Mr. Tieman folded his arms and looked to the class.

            “Does anybody see anything wrong with her solution?”

            The weird new girl raised her hand.

            “Yes, Ms. Showers.”

            “She should have gotten 615.44. She did the incorrect calculation, finding the diameter and then preceding to find the circumference and not the area. You have to multiply pi by the radius squared.”

            Mr. Tieman’s eyes lit up like fireworks. “Excellent Ms. Showers. You may be seated Ms. Wilson.”

            I walked back to my seat. I made sure I gave her my best evil eye. She just smiled at me. “There’s a test on Friday. I hope we all know our correct formulas by then.”

            I bore my pencil down on my paper, leaving a dollop of graphite on my problems. She flashed me a 100-watt smile. “We can study together if you like,” she said.

            I was about to refuse when Clementine chimed in. “Ooh that is a good idea. We can all meet at my house and have snacks and study.” She clapped her hands together like a seal.

            “That sounds great,” I said forcing a smile.

            “What cute dimples you have Violet. They look like teeny crescent moons,” Kamaria said to me.

            I smiled more freely this time. And then the bell rang.

            After math class, Clementine and I usually take a restroom break, because Ms. Cotton never lets anyone out of her class once the bell has rung. Clementine was sprinkling a pixie stix on her tongue. And Kamaria followed me like a side by shadow. From this point on all cool points were out the window.

            In the bathroom, Lindy Purtle and her gaggle of girls were applying makeup to their faces. I envied Lindy’s straightened tresses. “Oh look it’s the nerd and company,” Lindy sneered. “Hey Kori, can you tell me the circumference of Clementine’s stomach?” Lindy‘s friends laughed..

            Clementine turned a shade of raspberry. I bit my lower lip, but Kamaria stood her ground.

            “First off, my name is Kamaria not Kori. I can give you the circumference of your brain. Zero.”

            Simultaneously our mouths dropped like a drawbridge. She had insulted Lindy Purtle in front of her friends.

            Lindy Purtle clenched her fists. “Are you making fun of me?”

            Kamaria replied calmly. “If the hat fits.” She turned on her heel. “We better get to class.”

            I couldn’t concentrate too much in science class because of the arctic blast that shot from Lindy Purtle’s side of the room. I avoided her glance at all cost. I looked over at Clementine and Kamaria. “Great, she’s here one day and she’s already managed to make me late, put me on Lindy’s bad side and ruin my social resume,” I complained silently.

            “I don’t know how I’ll be able to remember the difference,” bemoaned Clementine slouching low in her seat.

            “It’s easy, intrusive igneous rocks form beneath the Earth’s surface. Extrusive form at the Earth’s surface,” Kamaria explained.

            “Oh! So Intrusive beneath, Extrusive above,” Clementine said, clapping like a seal again.

            I looked over at Lindy Purtle. She was pounding her fist in her palm. I swallowed hard. Suddenly I wasn’t thrilled about the rest of the day.

            Ah the cafeteria, a miscellany of sounds and smells. Kids trying to out talk each other, and the weird burnt smells coming from whatever the lunch ladies were brewing.

            “I don’t know why they wait so long to give us lunch,” Clementine said as we took our seats at our usual spot. The table in the farthest corner. Clementine went straight for the applesauce, which she declared wasn’t sweet enough. “Yuck, this must be sugar free. Curse you Splenda.”

            I poked my meat lump with my fork. Kamaria was gladly eating all that was on her tray.

            “Yummy,” she said.

            My nose picked up that whiff again. Cheese Boy! “What do you want chees– Tevin?” I asked.

            “Can I sit with you lovely ladies?”

            “No! You may not,” I said placing my foot in the seat. “We’re having girlie conversation.”

            His smile dissolved into a frown. “Fine,” he said sulking away.

            “I think he likes you,” Kamaria pointed out.

            Clementine nodded her head in agreement. Her curls swaying back and forth.

            “Well, Cheese Boy, can like someone else,” I said.

            “Why do you call him that?” she asked.

            “Because he smells like moldy cheese.”

            She shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe his body chemistry doesn’t agree with his soap or deodorant.

            I raised my eyebrow at that one; she couldn’t be an ordinary teen. Clementine slurped her 2% milk. Cool people definitely didn‘t slurp.

            “Why do you want to be part of that so much?” Kamaria asked turning her attention toward the “in” table.

            “What do you mean?” I asked.

            “You know, you think if those people accepted you, that you’d be better off.”

            I was dumbfounded. How’d she know that?

            “Personally, I wouldn’t try to befriend people who didn’t like me the way I am. To me one real friend means so much more than many phony friends.”

            “Oh wow! Not only is she smart, but she has common sense too,” exclaimed Clementine.

            “The coolest thing is to be you. That‘s why I think you two are the coolest girls ever,” she said smiling.

            The lunch bell rang.

            In gym class, we picked our teams for softball. I was captain of the red team. I was ecstatic. Of course, I picked Clementine first (even though she’s athletically challenged).          She gave me a Cheshire cat grin, and pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. The last two people that were left were Sylvia, who always tripped over her feet, and Kamaria (probably because she rates high on the strange factor). Apparently, her gym shorts were made from aluminum foil too. I chose Kamaria, over two left feet Sylvia. Ms. Jones blew her whistle. My team was up to bat first.

            “Do your best Clem,” I shouted.

            The first ball came to her. She just stood there. The second ball came and she swung spinning herself all the way around. The third ball was a strike. “That’s okay,” I lied as Clementine took a seat. The weird new girl was next; Lindy Purtle wound the ball like a professional. She threw it with all her might. All I saw was a blur of cotton candy puffs. We had a homerun. But of course, when Nathalie and Jonette came to bat we had our last two outs.

            It was time for Lindy Purtle’s team to bat. When Lindy walked by Kamaria she must have stuck out her foot, because Kamaria fell to the ground.

            Ms. Jones blew her whistle. “Lindy.”

            “I didn’t do anything,” she said innocently. “She’s clumsy.”

            Kamaria was clutching her knee.

            “Are you okay?” Ms. Jones asked.

            Kamaria was silent.

            “Would someone like to escort her to the nurse’s office?”

            Nobody else volunteered, so I said I would take her.

            “Let’s see your knee?” I asked when we were in the hallway.

            She shook her head. I grabbed her hand. I couldn‘t believe what I saw. Or didn‘t see. Her knee wasn’t bleeding, but where the skin was broken; there was a blue iridescent patch. She looked at me. I was perplexed.

            “Is your leg prosthetic?” I asked.

            “I don’t need to go to a nurse. I can fix this myself.” She hobbled off to the girl’s restroom.

            I really couldn’t concentrate in English class. I couldn’t help but stare at Kamaria’s knee, which was wrapped with tissue paper now. She looked up from her reading and smiled at me. “I have something for you,” she said. She handed me a bracelet. It was smooth and pearly.

            “Are these gem stones?”

            “Yes, they’re moonstones; it is my friendship bracelet to you.”

            Clementine held up hers. “I have one too.”

            “Ladies, is there something you want to share with the class?” Mrs. Maples implored.

            We shook our heads. Looking at my bracelet, I forgot all about that strange patch on her knee.

            Before I knew it, English was over. I was walking sandwiched in between my best friend and my new friend. Lindy Purtle and her sheathens approached us.

            “How’s that knee?” Lindy asked.

            “Fine,” Kamaria responded, trying to walk past them.

            “Hey, I’m talking to you,” she said, pushing Kamaria.

            “We have a class to go to,” I said.

            Everyone in the hall was looking at us, even Cheese Boy. I could smell him. Lindy Purtle tore off the tissue paper. Kamaria covered her knee, but not before revealing that iridescent blue patch. Lindy Purtle’s eyes widened. “What the hell is that? Are you some kind of weirdo? Hey the new girl is some kind of weirdo.”           

            Kamaria grimaced. She head-butted Lindy Purtle. Then she ran in the girl’s rest room.

            “I am totally shocked and awed,” Clementine said.

            “Come on.” I grabbed Clementine and we ran after her.

            We found her crouched in the bathroom stall. Her head buried in her hands.

            “Kamaria are you okay?” we asked.

            She looked up. Her eyes were like rain. “No one was supposed to know.”

            “Know what?” I asked.

            “Know about me. My true self.”                     

             “I don’t understand,” Clementine said.

            “Me either,” I said.

            “My parents are going to be upset with me. No one was supposed to find out.”

            “Find out what?” we implored.

            She stood up from the stall. She removed all her epidermis to reveal blue iridescent skin, which glistened in the light. Her thousand eyelashes blinked. “See this is me.” Her voice gurgled as she spoke. Clementine made a sound like a banshee before hitting the floor. I on the other hand lost my voice somewhere between my uvula and my tongue. I took an awkward step back.

            She was the most beautiful yet frightening thing I’ve ever seen.

            Lindy Purtle stormed through the bathroom. “Where’s that heifa?”Lindy Purtle’s sneakers screeched as she stopped dead in her tracks. The whole bathroom suddenly flooded with fluorescent lights. The walls began to vibrate. My head felt like it was being pinched with tiny fingers. And then everything stopped.


            The next day I sat on the bus. Yesterday was a blur. My head pulsated. I kept having these fuzzy snapshots about a creature with a thousand eyelashes and blue skin. But I couldn’t remember where I’ve seen it. Clementine came and sat next to me. “Hi,” she said soft as snow falling.

            “Hi,” I said. And then I noticed we had the same pearly bracelets. We touched them. And echoed in our minds was the name Kamaria.